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Divorce, Philippine-style By Rodel Rodis INQUIRER.

net First Posted 07:34:00 06/12/2009 Of the 195 countries in the world, only three do not currently allow for divorce and that number will be further reduced by one next year when Malta officially adopts a divorce law. This total includes all 53 countries in Africa, 52 out of the 53 in Asia, 47 out of the 48 in Europe, all 13 in South America, and all 7 in Central America. Each of these incredibly diverse countries²whether Christian, Muslim or Buddhist, democracy or dictatorship²have adopted some form of divorce law except for the Philippines and Vatican City. Included among the vast majority of countries is Italy, the home base of Roman Catholicism, which amended its Civil Code on December 1, 1970 to permit the granting of divorces. Also included is Spain, the country which brought Christianity to the Philippines, which passed a divorce law in 1981. Ireland² the country that has sent more Catholic priests to the Philippines than perhaps any other country² prohibited divorce in its 1937 Constitution but repealed this prohibition in 1995. All over the world, people and nations have accepted the wisdom and justice of providing for some form of dissolution of a state-sanctioned marriage except understandably for Vatican City, the eternal bastion of total male superiority which will never need to pass a divorce law for its assorted priests, bishops, cardinals, and its Holy Father Pope. And, inexplicably, for the Philippines, which has had two women presidents and where women comprise the majority of its population. There it is, in the first article of its Family Code, the Philippine state declares that marriage is an "inviolable social institution, a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman." But critics point out that it is a ³permanent union´ only for the women as the men have had no problems engaging in ³unions´ with other women. One Philippine senator openly brags about siring 82 children with dozens of women. One former president openly acknowledges his relationships with various mistresses who remain actively involved in his presidential quest. While divorce is not legal in the Vatican and in the Philippines, both provide for the nullity of marriage. The canonical law of the Vatican provides for ecclesiastical declarations of nullity. The Philippine Family Code has provisions on Declaration of Absolute Nullity, Annulment and Legal Separation which substantially coincide with the Vatican¶s canon law provisions on Nullity while the Family Code provision on Legal Separation is essentially the same as the Catholic Church's provision on Canonical Separation. OA Annulment or nullity refers to a process of invalidating what was previously valid. A legal fiction is created whereby the state officially declares a marriage void ³ab initio,´ from the beginning. If the marriage never existed, then there is no need to dissolve it. The grounds for nullity in the Philippines are: minority (a party below 18 even with the consent of parents), lack of authority of the solemnizing officer, absence of a marriage license, bigamous/polygamous marriage, mistaken identity, incestuous marriage, and psychological incapacity. Psychological incapacity, according to one legal authority, ³contemplates downright incapacity or inability to take cognizance of and to assume the basic marital obligations; not a mere refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less, ill will, on the part of the errant spouse.´ This ³nullity by psychological incapacity´ is the Philippine version of divorce. In the United States, the grounds for nullity are all based on conditions that were in existence at the time of the taking of the marital vows (bigamous marriage, minority, physical incapacity, mental incapacity, and fraud). Divorce, on the

unofficially. 1987 before the Philippine Congress was re-established and convened on July 27. Cory had three legal advisers. 1986. in at least one case. after People Power ousted Ferdinand Marcos. all women. In the Philippines. Cory¶s advisers knew that a Congress would never pass such a law that would be favorable to women and which the Church would consider ³contrary to Philippine culture and tradition. sexual infidelity or perversion.other hand. When Cory Aquino became president on February 26. in the Philippines.´ there were only two branches of government. Or even. she abolished the 1973 Constitution that Marcos enacted by dictatorial fiat and replaced it with the 1986 ³Freedom Constitution.´ With Cory¶s power to enact laws by her decree under the Freedom Constitution about to end. A significant change occurred in the Philippines in 1988 when parties were now able to file for nullity based on conditions that occurred after marriage where one errant party has displayed conflicting personality. While officially. irresponsibility. ³habitual lying. emotional immaturity. who were concerned about the inequity in cases where Filipino women were divorced by their foreigner husbands who were able to remarry while their Filipino wives could not do so about cases where the Filipino husbands were abusive or otherwise sick in the head. Ironically. ³nullity by psychological incapacity.´ that it exists. even providing for instances where the respondent spouse is out of the country or could not otherwise be served with the legal papers by allowing for summons by publication. Under Cory¶s ³Freedom Constitution. the advisers hurriedly drafted a Family Code which included provisions for this Philippine divorce by another name. More than 21 years later. the Executive and the Judiciary where the power to make laws was vested in the Executive branch.´ She then appointed 50 commissioners to draft a new constitution that would be presented to the people for ratification in February of 1987. Cory signed it into law on July 6. and abandonment. is based on conditions that occur after the marriage. While divorce by any other name is still a divorce. How it came into being is a story filled with serendipity and irony. the Philippines is the only country aside from Vatican City to not allow for divorce. 1987. or has engaged in physical abuse. the Philippines is in step with the rest of the world on this issue. the practice and procedure for obtaining a ³nullity by psychological incapacity´ has expanded.´ These are normally grounds for divorce in the United States. habitual alcoholism. . married parties were always able to file petitions to have their marriages annulled based on the same pre-existing conditions that are the grounds for nullity in the United States. it is only because it came by another name. this was accomplished by the most devoutly Catholic president the Philippines has ever had.

2010 13:19:00 Lira Dalangin-Fernandez lira.Solons say no to µrenewable¶ marriage January 12.´ Marriage should not be treated like a rental contract that has an expiration. The proposal also goes against the provisions of the Constitution because the highest law of the land clearly advocates marriage and family.net INQUIRER.´ ³What if the woman is battered before the 10 years is over? She should be able to get out of the relationship. said making marriage renewable reduces it to a ³mere legal contract´ instead of a relationship. He said marriage does not trap couples into the relationship and is not a violation of human rights because getting into it is an option for men and women. according to the solon. The group will join the party-list election in the May 2010 polls. It is also anti-women because it would give men the opportunity to leave his wife after 10 years and easily find a new one. ³To give marriage an expiration is also to give families an expiration.net MANILA. Three women lawmakers also opposed the idea. ³The proposal ignores realities like what happens to the children. adding that divorce would be a better option. It will be dangerous to open Philippine society to the mindset that marriages and families have a predetermined end. what would be their status? Will we not . Philippines²Several lawmakers on Tuesday slammed the doors on a proposal for a renewable marriage even before it reached Congress.´ she said. Marriage. Fellow Gabriela party-list Representative Luz Ilagan said making marriage renewable ³reduces a sacred institution to a mere business contract. ³What is happening to our values? That¶s what happens when people don¶t believe in absolutes anymore. Speaker Prospero Nograles said he is not in favor of the proposal as it was against his Catholic beliefs. Manila Representative Bienvenido Abante. The advocate of the proposed law. Representative Liza Maza of Gabriela party list called the proposal ³absurd´ and ³outrageous. Muntinlupa Representative Rufino Biazon said the proposal bodes danger to families. is imbued with social responsibility that should be upheld by couples.fernandez@inquirer. Nueva Ecija Representative Eduardo Nonato Joson also thumbed it down. saying couples who want to get out of the marriage can resort to annulment. Maza said.´ Abante said.´ he added.´ Biazon said in a statement. said it plans to put forth a measure requiring couples to renew marriage every 10 years so that it would not be voided. a pastor. ³The proposed marriage contract expiration should be opposed because it will endanger the integrity of the ties that bind Philippine society. women¶s party list group Isa-Ako Babaeng Astig Aasenso (1-ABAA).

Representative Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan party list said marriage should be a lifetime contract. But she also said that the current system of annulment should make it easy especially for the abused women to get out of the relationship and ensure support for her children. .´ Ilagan said in a text message. not something that is renewable.make it easy for the philandering men to have serial marriage? It¶s not a well-thought-out proposal.

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